Before moving on to Step 2 of the Illinois Career Development Association’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development, I’d like to devote a bit of space to addressing the actual process of taking the interest and personality assessments I referenced in Step 1. And yes, I see the taking of these assessments to be a process as opposed to an isolated task of answering questions with the first thought that pops into your head.
Why is that, you might be wondering, as the latter is the way you’ve always thought of personality ‘tests’ and/or the way you’ve been coached to take them, either online, in a self-help book, or by someone administering them at work. Well, the “first thing that pops into your mind” approach might work if you’ve already maximized the self-actualization stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; meaning that you’re doing work that exactly matches who you are all the hours of your work day and you don’t have any fears, conscious or unconscious, that could possibly get in the way of your acting consistently with your true and authentic self, twenty-four hours of every day. And yet, in truth, how often is it that any of us are fortunate enough to say these scenarios are consistently our experience?
If you do not feel fully self-actualized, then isn’t it possible the answers that “pop” into your head when taking these assessments may not represent your best self and the personality traits on which you want to base future actions and decisions? Instead, they will likely end up representing results that simply mirror or duplicate the not-so-well-suited job description you’re trying to put behind you. They may even reflect some other scenario in which you behaved so as to avoid someone becoming upset with you, rocking the “we’ve always done it that way” boat, or, worse yet, losing your job (a job to which you might not be particularly well suited or even want to do any more). In other words, your results might duplicate a “bad” situation you are trying to escape as opposed to providing you with a true vision of your best self and preventing you from making choices to allow for and promote your growth.
So, if any of the latter scenarios resonate with you, would you want to trust just any old thought that pops into your head to be used as a frame of reference the next time you take a personality or interest assessment? I’m hoping you wouldn’t. Instead, please consider placing at the forefront of your mind scenarios from your life that represent situations where you were operating as your best self in circumstances to which you were optimally well-suited and in a mode to THRIVE, rather than simply SURVIVE the situation at hand. If you can maintain that mindset, you will be much more likely to achieve a result that will come much closer to representing your true, natural, and innate self, providing you with information which is far more likely to be accurate on which to base future decisions.
And even then, please be aware that in spite of your best efforts to keep those best-fit scenarios in your test-taking mind, an assessment CAN still end up reflecting more what you have done than who you are and that this can happen to anyone at any time they are trying to answer these types of questions. This is why, in my use of assessments in my work as a career counselor, it is not the paper and pencil result of the assessments that I rely on so much as the time spent working with my client to settle on a “best fit” interest or personality type. I routinely share the basics of the theories and models on which the assessments I use are based in hopes that my clients will be able to recognize for themselves the possible negative influences past experiences and/or fears can have on their results and adjust their perception of what the assessments are telling them about who they are.
It is my hope that you will never be too quick to accept the result of those assessments you take online, or as a requirement of your employment, at face value. Please resist the temptation to jump to premature conclusions and/or label yourself, or anyone else with whom you’re sharing the ‘let’s take this online personality test’ experience, and proceed to treat yourself or others based on potentially erroneous results. Do consider seeking the help of someone trained in interpretation and validation of the assessments you’ve taken before you settle on a result, especially if you plan to base future life-impacting decisions on those results. And lastly, it is ultimately up to you alone to determine what is true about and for you. With these things in mind, I wish you happy and rewarding assessing.
To continue on with the subject of proactive career development, let’s focus on the first step of the Illinois Career Development Association’s Five Steps of Proactive Career Development introduced in my last blog.
Step 1. Assess your interests, personality type, transferable skills and values.
This step is, indeed, both the best place to begin and return to any time there is a major change in your life, especially any time you find yourself at another career decision-making fork in the road. The following types of assessments can help you gather the most current and complete information about YOU and help you to make the “best fit” career choices throughout your lifetime.
Is your first reaction to the thought of taking an interest assessment something like, ‘Oh, I took one of those back in high school and it told me I’d be a good ___, and I didn’t want to do that so …’ or ‘I know what I’m interested in so I don’t need to take an interest test”? If so, consider this. Are you aware that being interested in certain subject matter may be a world apart from being interested in the doing of the tasks that go along with the actual work done in that field in which you are interested? I’ve worked with many people over many years who thought they would like a certain field because they were, once upon a time, interested in studying the corresponding subject matter, only to find that they did NOT actually enjoy the DOING of the work that their degree prepared them for. Sad, isn’t it? So, to minimize the likelihood of that happening to you, please DO consider taking an interest assessment with the idea of exploring the potential for your enjoying the DOING of a particular type of work as much if not more so than assessing the subject matter in which you might be interested.
Personality assessments can identify career options that are suited to someone who thinks, solves problems, communicates, and makes decisions in the same way as you. So when you take this type of assessment it is really important that you’re answering the questions as your best and most natural self, being true to who you are. You’ll want to reference positive situations from your own life experiences where you felt fulfilled and energized. If you maintain this mindset while taking a personality assessment the chances are you’ll get better results for identifying the types of work to which you might be well suited.
Generic and transferable skills
Hopefully you are always learning new things. Taking stock of what you can do AND enjoy doing at any given point in your life ought to be an ongoing process. The sum total of your best skills and competencies WILL hopefully grow throughout your lifework experience. And, you may even find that how you prioritize which skills you want to add and/or develop may change at any time depending on your experiences. So, where you need to identify and assess your current skills for your resume or job applications, you really ought to re-evaluate them regularly for your ongoing career development even in your current position. Otherwise how are you going to know if or when it’s time to consider looking within your current work situation or even elsewhere for places to either learn new skills you’d like to acquire or apply new skills you’ve been developing.
Surely, your values are subjective and are likely to change as you meet new people and have new experiences. Know that what you think and feel about yourself, the world and your place in it IS important. YOUR thoughts and feelings ARE valid and will likely have a major impact on the degree of satisfaction and ‘fit’ between you and the work you do and the environment in which you do it. So, check in with yourself from time to time to see how your values may have changed. In fact, your work experiences over the years may have changed how you look at things and that change in perspective can result in a change in your values which WILL, in turn, impact your lifework decisions going forward.
Well, there you have it, a major list of things to assess now and throughout your lifetime. So, after all this, the big POINT here IS, before making any major decisions, KNOW THYSELF!!! And, happy assessing!!
When you make career related decisions do you view them more with an eye on the immediate or find yourself viewing the decisions at hand as they relate to a larger lifework perspective? As a career counselor I encourage my clients to look beyond any current career decision fork in the road to consider the impact of their immediate choice not only on the situation at hand but on a total lifework experience or the body of work that will be produced over their lifetime. (more…)
Whether any given athlete fell during a downhill race, tripped over their skates, wiped out in the halfpipe or had a slow start to their bobsled run all the athletes have one thing in common. They continue perfecting their skills so as to be ready for the next time they have the chance to use them. (more…)
Yep, change IS here to stay, and what’s more, it’s normal. Expect it. Embrace it. Learn to appreciate that it affords you the opportunity to … start over, hit the reset button, try something new, get unstuck, or put a new plan into action. Change can also help you to take the best of the “before-change you” into the future and leave the rest behind with a loving pat (more…)